Compared to other EU states, Spain has been slow to develop its high speed rail network. But over the last few years it has made considerable progress and now boasts well over 1800 km’s of high speed lines.

Expansion has been so rapid that Spain considers that 2010 will see it pass high speed train veterans France and Japan with the longest high-speed network in the world. All of the countries’ high-speed networks originate in the capital Madrid and make their way rapidly to destinations such as Barcelona and Malaga.

According to AVE Services which operates the system on behalf of Spanish rail network Renfe. At this time around 42,000 passengers make use of the service each day. They say that the rail service compares extremely well to flights and in many cases journey times are considerably shorter as there is no long check-in period and passengers can move from city centre to city centre rather than making their way to and from out-of-town airports.

Renfe are under no illusion that their competition is the airlines and have pitched their prices to match them on the same routes while offering the advantage of actually arriving in the centre of the city which they believe is a huge benefit, especially for business travelers.